FAMISHED: THE COMMONS, the second book in the Gentleman Ghouls series, has been delivered to my editors at Apocalypse Ink Productions as of Saturday, June 22.

One day after the Summer Solstice, for those who find such things appealing to contemplate; and on deadline, for those to whom such things are more important.

Well, adjusted deadline. The principle is the same. The deadline had to be adjusted to leave more room for my Alpha Readers to respond and comment.

An Alpha Reader is someone you turn to once the first draft is done to the author’s satisfaction, who then goes through the book to tell said author where his or her blind spots are. They’re generally looking for plot holes and massive inconsistencies, as well as any stylistic or genre-based issues the author might want to consider.

I’ve got a great group of people, both other writers, editors, and lovers of fiction in general, who are kind enough to take on this role for me. One of the biggest suggestions that hadn’t occurred to me was around familiarity with the series. I hadn’t thought to ask anyone who hadn’t read FAMISHED: THE FARM, to make sure the sequel was understandable on its own.

We addressed that (and luckily, the divine Mmes. J & S found no problems following along). Once this is done, I like to comb through the manuscript for two final pieces of polish before turning it in.

  1. Voices.I’ll go through the manuscript and read only the lines assigned to an individual character – Protagonist, antagonist, allies and villains – to make sure they’re using dialogue in a consistent manner. If my peasant farmer is talking about manure in one chapter and waxing eloquent on the divine firmament of the world in another, I’ve got an issue to clear up. Assuming he’s not possessed. This includes things such as:
    1. Manner of speech (do they ramble or are they taciturn?)
    2. Choice of words (are they sesquipedalians or monosyllabic?)
    3. Formality of address (do they sir and ma’am, or shout “hey, buddy?”)
    4. Regionalisms (a big part of the Gentleman Ghoul series, and a pitfall of mine – having traveled so little)
  2. Overused words or phrases.I know myself. I know my writing habits.This means I know that I overuse some very general words and phrases in my drafts, which can make the work feel amateurish and lazy, no matter how much time and effort was actually put into it.

    For kicks and giggles, I decided to capture the counts this time around, and how I edited them out:

    1. -ly words (Adverbs): Over 170 in the rough draft! Ye stars and little fishes.
    2. Nodded (rough draft: 43, including one instance of four nods on a single page! Brought down to 17.
    3. Shook his/her head: 37, brought down to 13.
    4. Smiled: 19, brought down to 9.
    5. Grinned 9, brought down to 6.
    6. Closed his/her eyes: 4, brought down to 2.

 That’s my final polish before turning the manuscript over to the beta readers and editors at Apocalypse Ink – I think of it as a final wipe-down of the counters and bathrooms before in-laws come to visit.

Lovely, wonderful, polite in-laws, of course …